Government needs to ensure recruitment to the Permanent Defence Forces and also to the Reserve Defence Forces – Smith

Reply by Minister to my most recent Parliamentary Questions

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For Oral Answer on : 24/01/2018 

Question Number(s): 10,42,43 Question Reference(s): 3254/18, 3357/18, 3457/18 

Department: Defence 

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 QUESTION

 * To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the position regarding Defence Forces recruitment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Tony McLoughlin T.D.

For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 24 January, 2018.

* To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the numbers serving in the Permanent Defence Forces at the end of 2017; the projected number of enlisted personnel for 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Brendan Smith T.D.

For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 24 January, 2018.

* To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence when he expects the Permanent Defence Forces numbers to reach the agreed ceiling of 9,500; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Lisa Chambers T.D.

For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 24 January, 2018.

 REPLY

 The Government is committed to maintaining the strength of the Permanent Defence Force at 9,500 personnel, as set out in the White Paper on Defence.

  To achieve this, there is significant on-going recruitment. In 2017 some 751 new personnel were inducted into the Permanent Defence Force, comprising of General Service Recruits, Cadets and specialists for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service. As of the 31st of December 2017, the strength of the Permanent Defence Force stood at 9,173 Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) personnel.

  In 2018, similar recruitment will take place and plans for this are currently being finalised. At this point it is not possible to predict precise numbers that will be recruited but it is anticipated that this will be in the region of 800 personnel.

  Certain specialist posts such as Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers and certain Technicians are presenting challenges for recruitment and retention. I have previously acknowledged this fact, which is reflective of the current economic circumstances and attractive job opportunities in the private and commercial semi-state sectors.  The extensive professional training that such specialists receive within the Defence Forces makes such personnel very attractive within these sectors.  This is not a unique challenge for the Defence forces and is also faced by military forces elsewhere.

  The Public Service Pay Commission is further examining the issue of the recruitment and retention of specialist personnel within the Defence Forces, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018 – 2020. The Department of Defence is currently preparing a submission on recruitment and retention.

  In addition to the ongoing development of specialists within the PDF, I am also addressing specialist vacancies with a range of recruitment methods including direct entry competitions for certain specialist positions. The scope to further expand direct entry is being considered. I have also directed civil and military management to develop proposals to facilitate former PDF personnel with appropriate skill-sets to re-enter the Defence Forces.

  Following acceptance by the Permanent Defence Force Representative Associations, the pay increases available under the Lansdowne Road agreement were applied to the Defence Forces. I was delighted that both PDFORRA and RACO have also signed up to the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 which is an extension of the Lansdowne Road agreement. This provides for further pay increase of between 6.2% and 7.4% over its lifetime.

  I remain committed to maximising recruitment of capable personnel, developing serving personnel, and so achieving the best personnel and skills combination to ensure the Defence Forces retain the capacity to operate effectively across all roles.

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For Oral Answer on : 24/01/2018 

Question Number(s): 36 Question Reference(s): 3358/18 

Department: Defence 

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QUESTION

To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the numbers serving in the Reserve Defence Forces at the end of 2017; the projected enlistment for 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

 The Government appreciates the service of the members of the Reserve Defence Force.  The White Paper on Defence is clear that there is a continued requirement to retain and develop the Reserve and it confirms that the primary role of the Reserve is to augment the Permanent Defence Force in times of crisis. In non-crisis situations, the main focus will be on training to prepare for this role. The Government has also assigned a formal role to the Reserve of contributing to State ceremonial events.

  As of the 31st December 2017 the number of personnel in the Reserve Defence Force was as follows:

  First Line Reserve: 271 personnel

Army Reserve: 1,732 (effective) personnel

Naval Service Reserve: 124 (effective) personnel

  I am aware that there is a shortfall between current strength and the establishment, which provides for 4,069 personnel for the combined Army Reserve and Naval Service Reserve.  The most recent recruitment campaign for the Army Reserve and Naval Service began in July 2017 and attracted 1,221 applications. A total of 139 personnel were inducted to the Reserve Defence Force in 2017.

  It is my intention to hold a further Reserve recruitment campaign in 2018 and I have directed the military authorities to maximise recruitment to the Army Reserve and Naval Service Reserve, having regard to training demands arising from the significant ongong recruitment to the PDF.

 

 

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